Throw Down [Masters of Cinema] (Blu-ray Review)

Throw Down Blu-rayIn this visually arresting action drama from acclaimed director Johnnie To (Mad Detective, Election), legendary Judo fighter Szeto Bo (Louis Koo; Flash Point, The Legend of Zu) unexpectedly gave up the sport and now lives the life of an alcoholic gambler who runs a pub. However, cocky Judo newcomer Tony (Aaron Kwok) wants to challenge him, while old foe Kong (Tony Leung Ka Fai, Ashes of Time) demands Szeto to finish the match that never took place, Soon Szeto’s pub becomes the ultimate arena where the greatest Judo fighters challenge one another. Filled with brutal, no-holds-barred Judo fight scenes, Throw Down is director To’s ultra-stylish homage to the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, and is an emotional tale of one man’s determination to rediscover himself and win at all costs. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Throw Down in its UK debut from a 4K restoration.

Throw Down Blu-ray


Throw Down is Johnny To’s homage to Akira Kurosawa. From the opening Seven Samurai inspired credits we segue to a quirky world filled with eclectic characters who move from one Judo fight to the next. Throw Down follows an alcoholic gambler who runs a club named Szeto Bo (Louis Koo), Judo newcomer Tony (Aaron Kwok), an old foe named Kong (Toby Leung), and the gorgeous Mona (Cherrie Ying).

These characters navigate this seemingly self-contained world of underground Judo fighting in an almost “Fight Club” sort of way. You don’t talk about it, but if you fancy a drink and some rock n roll karaoke, we can get you in. There’s a funny running gag where one of the characters fights the doorman to a particular fight just to get in. The results are the same each time.

I mentioned that Throw Down was an homage to Akira Kurosawa. I did not catch every single instance of the homages. That may also be to me not having watched every single Kurosawa film. Although while I was watching the film and watching the Mona character interact with other characters, I could not help getting a Chungking Express vibe. It’s almost like she was transported from that film into this one.

I also mentioned that there was Judo and there is a lot of it. People get thrown about like sacks of potatoes and you can actually feel the bodies hit the floor. It was neat, because I don’t think I’ve ever watched a film where the main discipline was Judo. With that being said, and the rating for the film itself, I was not engaged in terms of what was happening in the world of Throw Down. Sure, you have a lot of cool looking people and kick ass martial arts, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. This is not to say that the film and its characters don’t look terrific. It’s a great looking film, but as of this writing, feels a tad bid superficial. That does not mean I will not enjoy the film in the years to come. For now, it didn’t grab me like I was hoping it would. It meanders in parts and maybe I needed a bit more substance to it. Who knows, I’m almost conflicted in giving it the rating it’s getting, but I have to be honest here. As of this first viewing, I was not a fan of the overall story. It’s definitely style over substance. This may change down the line, who knows.


Throw Down Blu-ray


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: Contrast and sharpness levels are stellar on this Blu-ray release. I did not notice signs of edge enhancement either.

Depth: The video quality had tons of depth. Softness was not an issue and it only got hazy when folks were smoking cigarettes and cigars underneath the hot lights inside the various clubs throughout.

Black Levels: Black levels are deep and inky — since the majority of the film takes place in classy and seedy clubs, shadow levels may suffer a bit here and there due to how the standard lighting and club spotlights hit a person or surface environment. This is no fault of the transfer.

Color Reproduction:  There are many scenes where storefronts, billboards, clothing, etc., really stand out in the color spectrum. The one color that truly stands out is red. Outside of the stock intros featuring graphics, I noticed no intrusive banding or pixilation within the stellar color wheel on display here.

Flesh Tones:  Flesh tones appear nice and balanced — everyone has a nice and healthy tan – the transfer showcases this very nicely.

Noise/Artifacts: Throw Down was shot in 35mm and looks great. Grain structure really comes through and only a blind person will confuse the grain level on display here for noise and debris.

Throw Down Blu-ray


Audio Format(s): Cantonese LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit), English LPCM 2.0 (dubbed)

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: This is a 24-bit LPCM 2.0 soundtrack and it really kicks you in the mush. There are many scenes of martial arts and standard hand-to-hand combat that really put you in the middle of it. This LPCM 2.0 track sounds expansive and I never got the audible impression that it was cramped with noise vying for front speaker placement. Throw Down sounds terrific on this Blu-ray release! *Please note that there was an English dub included that I did not review, because I always go for the original language version.

Low-Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are clean, clear, and crisp.

Throw Down Blu-ray



Throw Down is fully loaded with a brand new commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng. There’s an additional commentary with Hong Kong film expert Ric Meyers. The rest of the extras seem to have been ported over from a previous release(s).



  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray, from a stunning 4K restoration
  • Cantonese and English audio options
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Brand new and exclusive feature-length audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival)
  • Audio commentary by Hong Kong film expert Ric Meyers
  • Lengthy interview with director Johnnie To (40 mins)
  • Making of Throw Down featurette
  • Theatrical trailer and TV spots
  • Reversible sleeve
  • PLUS: a collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film

Throw Down Blu-ray


I really wanted to like Johnny To’s Throw Down but ultimately, I was not a fan. What I was a fan of was this Blu-ray release. It has a gorgeous video presentation along with a stellar audio and special features. I’d say this is a “for fans” only release. Hey, at least you’ll have the best version available if you really are a fan. For those that are not familiar with this film, I’d proceed with caution, as it may or may not be your cup of tea.



DISCLAIMER: This Region B Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following HD Premium television set found HERE and Region-Free Blu-ray player HERE.  Make sure to check out all of our Blu-ray reviews archived HERE.  The images used above within the review are not actual Blu-ray screenshots. They are for illustrative purposes only.



Throw Down is now available

on Blu-ray in the UK!




Throw Down Blu-ray


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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